I’m heading for Naxos, supposedly the island the place Dionysus, the god of wine and enjoyable was born. It’s the most important of the Cyclades and doubtless probably the most fertile as a consequence of rain clouds forming on its mountains.
I can see these within the distance as I method Chora, the capital, however I’m instantly impressed by the defensive citadel overlooking the bay, and the stays of the Temple of Apollo, Two imposing marble columns topped with a lintel, often called the Portara, rise excessive into the sky.
Like most islands, the port is lined with cafes and eating places however behind it, steep alleys lead as much as the historic neighbourhood, topped by the Kastro, a defensive bastion of twelve towers, though just one, the Tower of Crispi stays. It was constructed by the crusader Marco Sanudo within the 13th century when he based the Venetian Duchy of the Aegean. Nonetheless, many Venetian mansions survive, typically with descendants of the unique households nonetheless residing there. Unusually for Greece, there’s a Catholic cathedral right here and a 17th century Ursuline convent. Nikos Kazantzakis, who wrote Zorba the Greek, studied within the French Business Faculty close by
Temple of Apollo
I courageous the waves pouring over the causeway to cross over to the Temple of Apollo, began by the tyrant Lygdamis round 530 BC. A lot of the stone was pillaged to construct the Kastro however the Portara, or ‘Doorway’ was just too large to cart away. In accordance with mythology, that is the place Dionysus duped Theseus into abandoning Ariadne on his method again from Crete. It’s a powerful sight and within the night folks collect to observe the sunsets.
I begin at Agios Georgios, Hora’s city seashore, and proceed south previous the gorgeous Agios Prokopios, sandy and shallow in a sheltered bay simply past the headland of Cape Mougkri. This merges into Agia Anna, after which there’s the lengthy, unbroken stretch of sand which is Plaka Seaside. Extra beautiful bays comply with, punctuated with rocky outcrops, so far as Pyrgaki, actually the tip of the street.
The peaks round Mount Zeus are calling so I get in my automobile to discover the inside of the island. It’s very inexperienced, stuffed with olive timber and grape vines with potatoes rising on the plain close to the ocean. As I begin to climb I see white villages dotted on the hillside with the mountains towering behind them.
Temple of Demeter
Demeter was the goddess of grain, and this temple was constructed to encourage the harvests on this fertile space. It dates from 530 BC and later an early Christian basilica was constructed excessive of it. In 1977 German archaeologists moved to 1 aspect and the temple was partially reconstructed. It’s a lovely website, sitting proud in the midst of the fields and there’s a wonderful museum detailing its historical past.
The world between Melanes and Kinidaros has been the island’s marble quarry since historical instances and the hillside is scarred by large gashes. Naxos marble shouldn’t be as nice grained as Paros however higher suited to massive constructions fairly than nice classical sculpture. The rock would bear tough processing on the quarry earlier than being moved to the ultimate vacation spot.
In Flerio there stay two examples of Kouroi, massive marble statues from the seventh and sixth centuries BC, every measuring about 5.5m. Each of those sleeping giants have damaged limbs, maybe broken by dangerous workmanship, they usually had been deserted without end.
Halki was as soon as the capital of Naxos and it lies on the coronary heart of the Tragaea mountainous area, about 20 minutes’ drive from Hora. Good-looking outdated villas and Venetian tower homes remind you of its historical past and it’s stuffed with arty boutiques. The native distillery, Vallindras Naxos Citron, was based in 1896, and remains to be producing the island’s distinctive spirit Citron, constructed from lemon leaves.
On the centre of the island, Apiranthos sits on the foot of Mt. Fanari, at an altitude of 600m and infrequently has snow in winter. It’s near the marble quarries and its slim streets are paved with the stuff. Add Venetian towers, fairly two-storey homes, and picturesque squares and you’ve got an simple sense of grandeur. Curiously a lot of villagers are descendants of refugees who escaped from tyranny in Crete within the 18th century they usually retain their very own dialect.
Filoti is the most important village within the area and is the staging publish for climbing Mount Zeus. There’s a round stroll which takes round three to 4 hours, however I drive as much as Agios Marina church at round 550m and begin from there.
It’s simply over an hour to the highest on a well-marked path and by no means very steep, though I’m caught in low cloud slightly below the summit. From there I’m rewarded with large views over the entire of Naxos and its island neighbours.
FLY: Wizzair has low cost flights from London Luton to Athens.
GETTING AROUND: Naxos is a ferry hub so perfect for island hopping. The boat from Piraeus takes round six hours. Though there are restricted bus providers on the islands, a rent automobile is beneficial.
STAY: The Princess of Naxos is on the outskirts of city, reverse the seashore, with a swimming pool.
EAT: Meze serves up wonderful seafood on the port. To Elliniko serves conventional meals in a backyard contained in the city. Kozi is nice for grilled meats.
MORE INFO: Naxos and Small Cyclades has details about the island
Go to Greece has details about the nation.
PACKAGE: On Foot Holidays supply 7 days strolling in Naxos and Amorgos from £645.